Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How Big Is Your Brave?

I've always been extremely passionate about getting to know my students on a deeper level.  But more than that I've kind of made it my mission as a teacher to make sure every student leaves my classroom knowing that offer something of value to the world.  Knowing that they matter.

This past year I had heard about an incredible movement called the #YouMatter movement on twitter.  This was created by Angela Maiers.  I even got the incredible honor of interviewing Angela on my EduAllStars podcast, and you can watch how inspiring she is for yourself by clicking here.

Well, I really wanted to use that as much as possible this year.  Especially since I was also a part of Classroom Champions that reminds kids of all the value they have to offer.

Then about a week ago I came across an activity Joli Barker did with her students.  If you don't know who Joli Barker is you need to go learn more about her immediately.  She is absolutely incredible.  Extremely inspiring and passionate.  I am so blessed to get to call her a friend even though we've yet to actually meet in person! haha

Anyway Joli wrote a blog about an activity she did with her students using the Tale of Despereaux.  I loved the idea and decided to try something similar with my students.

We've spent a good portion of our year on character development and learning who we are.  So I just asked my students three simple questions.  I asked them

  1. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
  2. What is your favorite physical feature and why?
  3. How big is your brave?
And I let them loose.  Some kids still really struggled with the answers to these questions and it broke my heart.  It showed me that there's still so much work for me to do to reach these kid's hearts and let them know how amazing they are.  But at the same time there were some really amazing responses that I loved reading later.

Here's some of the responses I got from my kiddos.

What is your favorite thing about yourself?
  • My favorite thing about myself is that I'm really artistic because my mom teaches me to draw good. - Garrett
  • My favorite thing about myself is that I clean up the messes I make. - Chaz
  • My favorite thing about myself is that I choose to always be me. - Cade
  • My favorite thing about myself is that I can draw and paint really well.  It makes me feel like I'm the best at what I love.  - Bella
  • My favorite thing about myself is that I'm able to do things that I thought were never possible like stand up for who I am and what I choose to do with my life. - Audri
What is your favorite physical feature and why?
  • My favorite physical feature is that I'm really tall.  It's kinda like if someone is having a bad day and they tell me their problems, it's like they're looking up to me. - Morgen
  • My voice is my favorite physical feature because it allows me to express myself and what I feel. - Kaela
How big is your brave?
  • I think my brave is as big as half the earth. - Parker
  • My brave is not that big, but I can go and stand up for myself when I have to. - Luis
  • My brave is as high as the empire state building because that's what I would bungee jump off of - Blake
  • My brave is not really big. - Zach
  • My brave is so big that when I get older I am going to China to save pandas and protect them from people who are armed with guns and I will help them for anything.  - Hope
  • My brave is pretty big because I will stand up for one of my friends if she can't befriend herself or if she's not feeling well I will be there for her and I will help her go through it. - Gloria
Reading the letters gave me another glimpse into my student's hearts.  Who they are, what they think.  It provides me with so much more information then some data from a standardized exam.

This activity also lead into an side project we're doing called "I'm going to change the world". We got special permission from Melissa Greene to use her song "Imagine" and we're going to make a video expressing the ways that each of my students are going to change the world around them, because let me tell you something, my students ARE going to change the world.

So, take the time today to bond with your kiddos.  To learn what they feel about themselves.  To challenge them to be different, to think outside the box.  But most importantly to remind them that they matter, and that every single person has something of value to offer the world.